Which predators pose a threat to hedgehogs? How can we help wildlife to coexist?
Badgers are hedgehogs’ main predators in the UK. They are the only animals strong enough to tackle a hedgehog’s spiny defences.
Hedgehogs and badgers share what’s known as an asymmetric intraguild predation relationship. Badgers can affect hedgehogs in one of three ways:
- Competition; the two species compete for many of the same food sources. These include soil invertebrates such as earthworms and beetle larvae.
- Predation; badgers can predate hedgehogs.
- Avoidance; hedgehogs will avoid areas where badgers have been active. Where there are many badgers, hedgehogs are likely to be less common.
While badgers do prey on hedgehogs, this is natural predator-prey interaction. Although badger numbers have boomed in recent years, there is little evidence that suggests they are the main reason why hedgehogs are in trouble. Indeed, hedgehogs are struggling in rural places where we know few badgers live, like East Anglia. Where conditions are favourable and invertebrate food is readily available, the two species can co-exist.
The two species have co-existed for thousands of years, which suggests that recent human activity has been a more prominent factor in the decline of hedgehogs. We would never condone the killing of badgers to help hedgehogs. Read our full statement on badgers and hedgehogs.
Foxes sometimes attack hedgehogs, although usually adult hogs are protected by their spines.
However, hoglets can be vulnerable to foxes, and we do see leg injuries where a fox or other predator has tried and failed to catch the hedgehog.
Urban foxes’ stomachs contain hedgehog parts now and then, though this is probably because they eat roadkill.
Otherwise, foxes and hedgehogs often live happily together in our cities.
- Dogs can attack hedgehogs, and young hogs can be killed, however the spines are usually enough to teach any dog a lesson to not try that again.
- Cats are curious but not a big threat. They will usually leave hedgehogs alone after investigating them.
- Tawny owls and golden eagles occasionally eat hedgehogs in Britain.
- Pine martins, weasels, stoats and rats sometimes harm young hedgehogs.
Find out how to protect hedgehogs from your pets.